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Effects of Alternative Housing and Feeding Systems on the Behavior and Performance of Dairy Heifer Calves

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Title: Effects of Alternative Housing and Feeding Systems on the Behavior and Performance of Dairy Heifer Calves
Creators: Neal, Stephanie
Advisor: Eastridge, Maurice; Pempek, Jessica
Issue Date: 2011-06
Abstract: Most calves in the dairy industry are housed individually prior to weaning. However, this type of housing limits the calves’ ability to display social behavior, which may impede development of normal social responses. Eighty-two female Holstein calves were allocated to treatments at 6 ± 3 d of age and monitored for approximately 9 wk. Treatments were as follows: individual housing fed with a bucket, individual housing fed with a bottle, paired housing fed with a bucket, or paired housing fed with a bottle. Two experimental sites were utilized. Calves were housed in hutches (non-tethered, wire pen) at Site 1 (n=34) and in wire-panel pens in a feed commodity shed at Site 2 (n=48). Calves allocated to the individual housing were placed in a single hutch at Site 1, whereas calves assigned to the paired treatment were housed by joining two adjacent hutches, with doubling of the pen size. Milk was fed via bucket or bottle twice daily (6 L/d). Calves had ad libitum access to calf-starter (same at both sites) and water. Gradual weaning commenced at wk 6 by reducing the calves’ milk allowance by 2 L/wk. Calves were weaned at the beginning of wk 8. Grain consumption and body weight were monitored on a weekly basis and wither height measured at the beginning and end of the experiment. Behavior was directly observed once per week for all calves at Site 1. Total DM intake (grain and milk solids) was higher (P = 0.04) for calves housed in pairs compared to those housed individually (1.76 ± 0.03 versus 1.69 ± 0.03 kg/d). Average daily gain (ADG) was similar for location, housing treatment, and feeding treatment. Change in wither height was greater(P< 0.01) at Site 1 (13.5 ± 0.5 versus 9.5 ± 0.4 cm) than for Site 2 and for calves housed individually compared to those housed in pairs (12.2 ± 0.4 versus 10.8 ± 0.5 cm; P = 0.03). Calves fed with a bottle spent more time lying than calves fed with a bucket. In conclusion, housing young calves in pairs may enhance feed intake due to social facilitation.
Embargo: No embargo
Series/Report no.: The Ohio State University. Department of Animal Sciences Honors Theses; 2011
Keywords: Dairy calves
Feeding Method
Sponsors: Twin Oak Dairy, LLC
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/48933
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